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DANCE REVIEW : Kang's Dance an Official 'Intangible Cultural Asset'

February 10, 1996|LEWIS SEGAL

All great dances are intangible cultural assets, but the Korean government has given one titled "Tae Pyong Mu" the designation "Intangible Cultural Asset No. 92," a title also applied to Sun Young Kang, the woman who has spent half a century performing and teaching that dance.

At the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on Thursday, Kang and 16 other dancers from Korea performed a program drawn from folk and religious traditions as well as scenes from two dramatic works choreographed by Kang that mixed different styles of music and dance. The only disappointment: over-amplified taped music of wretched fidelity during everything except the drum dances.

Now 70, Kang danced only briefly, but even someone unfamiliar with Korean culture could appreciate the serene purity of her three solos--especially the flow of breath through her shoulders generating refined, weightless arm ripples that terminated in eloquent gestural statements.

As official "Tae Pyong Mu"-Holder, or guardian, she appeared midway through this supremely elegant ensemble piece, punctuating and heightening its effects. Adapted from shamanistic ritual, it was danced to a deep-toned drone with sharp rhythmic accents, reflecting its accompaniment in movement at once lyrical and precise. Ultimately, it exalted the grace of Korean women as they floated and swirled magically in overlapping layers of gleaming, translucent fabrics. Intangible indeed.

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